“Welcome back, guys!” I said grandly, holding the door for them as they walked back into the house.
“Thanks Prongs,” Remus chuckled, “When did you suddenly learn manners?”
“Hardy har har, Moony.”
“What did Ted want?” Lily asked as we all sat down in the living room.
“He wanted to ask us how we thought the battle was going and how Harry was doing. He didn’t want to say it in front of you guys because he didn’t want to make you upset.” Fred explained.
“He also wanted to know if we knew whether Harry had found what he was looking for,” Tonks added, “Whatever that is.”
There was an uncomfortable silence and Lily, Nikki, Sirius and I all looked down, avoiding their eyes. Before Fred gasped, “That’s right! You guys know what he was looking for! Dumbledore told you.”
“What?” Remus and Tonks burst out.
“He told you?” Remus asked incredulously, in a tone that made me feel slightly offended. “He told you what Harry was looking for?”
We nodded, “He told us everything.” I said, “He told us all about the mission Harry was on this year, what he was looking for, and…” I took a deep breath, “and what has to happen in the end.”
Tonks gasped, “Will he have to die?”
“No, no,” Fred said instantly, “Harry wouldn’t have to die. He would never do that. Not if it would hurt Ron and Hermione, Ginny…my family. He wouldn’t do it.”
“He would if it would kill Voldemort and stop the war.” Remus disagreed.
“Harry doesn’t have to die, exactly…” Sirius said slowly, before saying in a big rush, “He just has to let Voldemort use Avada Kedavra on him, without defending himself so that he can finally have a proper chance of killing Voldemort.”
There was a stunned silence. The three of them stared incomprehensively at us.
“I-If Harry doesn’t defend himself, the…curse that Voldemort unconsciously placed on him when he tried to kill him 16 years ago will be destroyed, but Harry himself will be unharmed. Only then can he try to get rid of Voldemort once and for all.” Lily said.
“Curse?” Remus questioned.
“Yeah…that’s the hard part to explain.” I said hesitantly, “We will tell you all about it sometime, just not tonight I think. I’m too tired.”
Lily, Nikki and Sirius nodded their agreement, and even though they would have preferred to know right away, the others agreed.
There was another long silence. Everyone lost in their own thoughts. The minutes passed slowly, but nobody said anything. My eyelids were starting to droop when Lily said, quite randomly, “How did Ginny take Harry leaving for months? I mean, they only just got together, and suddenly he has to go away. She wouldn’t have been too happy, I’ll bet.”
Remus, Tonks and Fred all glanced at each other uneasily. “Well…no, she wasn’t happy.” Fred admitted. “But she was mostly upset because…well, Harry broke up with her.”
“WHAT?!” Lily and Nikki shrieked so loudly that we had to cover our ears for a moment.
“He thought that he was putting her in danger, being with her. He thought that Voldemort would find out about them, and go after Ginny, and he cared for her too much for that to happen. So he broke up with her to keep her safe.” Remus sighed, after we got our normal hearing back, “He’s much too noble for his own good.”
None of us responded. We were all staring dumbly at them, shocked.
“I’m going to kill him.” Lily muttered, “Silly teenager, doesn’t know how to hold on when someone amazing comes along.”
“Boys.” Nikki murmured quietly, “They can be so stupid.”
“It’s not like she didn’t see it coming,” Tonks argued. “She knew he would do it eventually, because she knew that he wouldn’t rest until he had gotten rid of Voldemort. But still, it broke her heart.” Tonks shook her head sadly, “She liked him for 6 years.”
“And it’s not like it kept her safe, anyway. She went to Hogwarts which was controlled by the Death Eaters, and she and Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood kind of rebelled and got in all sorts of trouble—”
“Hang on, Fred.” Sirius interrupted, “they rebelled? Against the Death Eaters?” There was an unmistakable tone of admiration in his voice.
“How did they rebel?” I had to ask
Fred gave a short laugh, “They kind of brought back the old Dumbledore’s Army group that Harry led two years ago; but obviously without Harry or Hermione or Ron this time. They went against what the Carrows and everything. Got in a lot of trouble for it too.”
I knew I shouldn’t have, but I felt a swelling of pride hearing that Harry had led a rebellious group while he was at school. Seems like he did have some of my personality after all.
“Anyway,” Fred continued, “Luna was captured by the Death Eaters at Christmas and Ginny didn’t go back after the Easter holidays, it just was that dangerous. From what I heard after that, Neville had to go into hiding from the Carrows and Snape because they were probably going to try and kill him.”
“They what?” I yelled, “They were going to kill him? He’s just a kid!”
“Harry’s just a kid too,” Tonks pointed out, “But kids have to survive a lot these days. The Death Eaters this year were incredibly harsh with the way they ran Hogwarts. They taught them that Muggles are dirty, made them learn Dark Arts, not Defence Against the Dark Arts…they even made kids practice the Cruciatus Curse on students in detention!”
Lily gasped and Nikki cut in then, looking absolutely horrified, “They tortured kids in detention? That’s horrible! They can’t do that!”
Remus chuckled darkly, “Nik, we are talking about a school run by Snape here. He could do anything he wanted, being a Death Eater and all.” The dislike in his voice was plain, and I knew that Remus had taken it personally when Snape killed Dumbledore. Out of all the Marauders, Remus was the one that didn’t absolutely hate Snape with a passion, but when he killed Dumbledore…
Sirius startled us by laughing loudly. He always did have very sudden mood swings. “Yeah well Snivellus can be full of surprises.”
I couldn’t help but grin. I was still furious about the whole Snape visit, but I felt better about it when I joked with Sirius. “Didn’t you think Padfoot?” I said, “That he just had a knack for appearing at the most inconvenient times, in places you just wouldn’t expect?”
Sirius laughed again, this time with Nikki joining in, and even Lily gave a smile.
“Okay, what is going on?” Remus said, eyeing our broad smiles warily.
Lily opened her mouth to explain, but was cut off by Sirius, who had his hand in the air and was waving it around madly while bouncing in his seat. He looked just like an over-enthusiastic school kid, who was bursting with the answer to a question. Kind of like Lily in those first few years at Hogwarts.
“Ooh ooh!” he bounced, “Can I say it? Can I? Pleeeeaase?”
Lily rolled her eyes, “Fine, Siri. If you must.”
He finally stopped waving his arm around and sat still, but keeping the huge grin on his face. “We had an extremely greasy visitor tonight!” he yelled.
Fred and Tonks still looked extremely confused, but Remus’s eyes immediately widened in understanding and he shouted, “WHAT?”
Sirius nodded frantically, grinning like a maniac. “That’s right, Moony. Our favourite little Slytherin paid us a little visit. He just missed us so!” Sirius said dramatically, putting his hand over his heart.
Remus seemed to be struggling with words, his eyes wide open in shock. “S-Snape came…here?”
As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Fred and Tonks’s mouths dropped open and they stared at us in shock. I couldn’t help but laugh, and tease Moony a bit. “Exactly, Mr Lupin, excellent work. 10 points to Gryffindor!”
He struggled to contain a smile. Then Fred burst out, “Snape’s dead? When? How?”
“His name came up on the screen a couple of minutes after you all went to go talk to Tonks’s dad.” Lily explained. “He was murdered. Turns out not all Death Eaters are spared by the Dark Lord.”
“Voldemort killed him?” Tonks said, “Serves him right, double-crossing bastard.”
“What did he want?” Remus asked.
“I told you already, Moony! He missed the Marauders. He was very disappointed to find that you weren’t there though. But after I explained you would be back, he seemed to cheer up—”
“Oh shut up, Sirius.” snapped Lily. “He…well, he wanted to see me. He wanted to…tell me something.”
“What?” Tonks asked, “What could possibly be so important that he had to come and see you the night of his death? I didn’t even know that he knew you, Lily.”
“Yeah, he knew Lily,” I said, “They were best friends until fifth year, when he called her a you-know-what. I was just as surprised as you are when he turned up here. Turns out that he had always wanted to be more then friends with Lily, he wanted to tell her that he—” I cut myself off by clamping my teeth together as another wave of fury washed over me.
“Oh,” Remus suddenly said, understanding lighting his features. “Oh no…he didn’t…”
“You know what he said?” Tonks asked, turning to her husband curiously and Fred leaned around her to look at Moony too.
He glanced at her, then at me, then at Lily. “I can guess. I knew about it at school, he wasn’t very good at hiding it. I just didn’t know that he still…well, obviously he did.”
“Hang on, how is it that you noticed it at school and I didn’t? Neither did Sirius, or Nikki, although they figured it out when Snape was here. How was I the last to know?” I whined
“Because, James.” Nikki murmured, “The way he looked at Lily tonight, I had seen you look at her like that for 6 years. He stared at her just like you did. I recognised it instantly, because I had seen it everyday in your eyes.”
Remus nodded in agreement. “Sirius didn’t notice in school, because you both only saw the bad in him, you didn’t care to notice him unless we were pranking him. And a lot of the time, you noticed him looking over at the Gryffindor table in the Great Hall, and you thought he was looking at you, when he was really looking at Lily…”
“Will somebody please fill us in!” Fred yelled.
“Certainly, my fire-haired friend,” Sirius said joyfully, “Snivelly stood in the hallway of this very house for an incredibly long time, perhaps waiting for the right moment, leaving grease stains on the carpet until he finally told Lily of…” he paused dramatically, “his undying love for her!”
Fred and Tonks gaped, and Sirius laughed, “I know! What a twist! It’s just like in those muggle shows, what are they called? Soap Poparas? Sopa Operas? OW!” he frowned at me, and rubbed the back of his head. “Why’d you do that Prongs?”
I shrugged, “It was the only way to shut you up.”
“And it’s Soap Operas, Sirius.” Lily said.
“So, let me get this straight.” Said Fred slowly, “Snape arrived here about 5 minutes after we left,”—we nodded—“came in uninvited,”—we nodded again—“procrastinated for a while about what he came to say,”—more nodding—“then finally told Lily that he loved her.”
We nodded once more. “Yup, that’s about it.” Sirius said, “Let me tell you, Lily was rather shocked, but James, well, didn’t he react! He was not a happy chappy.”
“Of course I wasn’t!” I yelled, “One of the people I least like in the entire world turns up on my doorstep, in the middle of a very trying and emotional night, where my best friend was killed, as was two of the people my son loved dearly, and he confesses to be in love with my wife!”
“Jeez, I would be mad too.” Fred muttered.
But Remus groaned, “Tell me you didn’t act too irrational James. You didn’t curse him did you?”
“Moony! How dare you assume I would do such a thing! Of course I didn’t curse him. I didn’t even touch my wand.”
He nodded, letting out the breath he was holding in relief, before Sirius added, “You didn’t bother getting out your wand, Prongsie! You just decided to go and slam him into the wall.”
“James! You shouldn’t have done that!”
I rolled my eyes, “I know, Remus, it was irrational, I should have thought about it first blah blah blah. But I was so mad! How would you like it if I just randomly went to Tonks now,” I turned to Tonks, and took her hand, looking into her eyes, “Oh, Nymphadora, how I love you! I always have and I always will!” And I gave her a lingering kiss on the cheek. Then I looked back at Remus, whose mouth was pressed into a thin line, “See! You know I am kidding, yet you still get mad.”
He shook his head at me, “Fine, I see your point.”
I grinned, victorious.
“Wow, you guys must be absolutely drained. I thought I was tired, but seems like you guys need a hell of a lot more sleep then I do!” Tonks mused.
“You got that right, cousin dearest. I am just waiting for Harry to kill Voldy then I will go straight to bed!”
Nikki rolled her eyes, “No you won’t Sirius. You’ll stay up and get drunk and party until 7 am and then you’ll go to bed.”
“Oh! That’s right. I forgot about the celebratory party, I really must get that organised. Right! I have a stash of Firewhiskey in my house, I’ll get that. Fred, you can get the fireworks, Rem you can get—”
But I didn’t hear anymore of Sirius’s rave planning because there was suddenly a flash of brilliant white light, and I was no longer sitting in my living room.
I blinked, my eyes getting used to the sudden darkness. When they had adjusted, I looked around and saw that I was in the Forbidden Forest, the familiar place of so many adventures at school.
I saw Lily beside me, not quite solid, but more then a ghost, she was smiling at something in front of her. On my left were Remus and Sirius, both looking as happy as I was to be back in our old environment. Looking forward, I had to catch my breath. Harry was standing in front of me, his back turned, holding what appeared to be a small stone in one hand, and his wand in the other.
We walked towards him, our feet making only the softest of noise on the leaf-covered floor. Harry turned around at the sound of our approach and his eyes widened, as small smile on his lips. He was exactly the same height as me, his hair sticking up in just the same way as mine always has and round glasses like mine perched on his nose. But they were dirty, cracked, and lopsided. On his cheek was a large cut, caked with dry blood, his hands were also covered in dirt and blood. This was the worst I had ever seen him, and it pained me to realise that these wounds were nothing to the emotional pain I knew he was feeling inside. They were the outcomes of this battle.
It suddenly hit me then that I knew what he was doing. He knew that he had to turn himself in. Somehow, he had found out that he had to go to Voldemort. But he didn’t know that he didn’t have to die. It would be so hard to walk towards your death, thinking that you only had a few minutes left, that your heartbeats were numbered. Just to even accept the fact that he was walking towards the end of his life, even to save the people he loved and to stop this horrible monster of a human. The amount of courage would be enormous, but I knew that he had it.
“You’ve been so brave.” Lily said, echoing my thoughts, and anyone could hear the love in her voice. She was smiling so wide, so happy to see our son again. Harry stared at her in wonder, and it made me so sad to think that it was one of the only times he had seen us.
“You are nearly there,” I said, “Very close. We are…” it was impossible to express my feelings with words, “so proud of you.” I hoped that he would realise how proud that really was. It was almost painful, the fact that I couldn’t touch him, or tell him just how much I was proud of him, how much I loved him.
“Does it hurt?” He blurted out, then seeming to regret it.
“Dying?” questioned Sirius, “Not at all. Quicker and easier then falling asleep.”
“And he will want it to be quick, he wants it over.” Said the ever-practical Moony, and we all knew that he was right.
“I didn’t want you to die,” Harry said, “any of you. I’m sorry…” I was sorry too, sorry that I never got to see him grow up into the brave and selfless man here in front of me now, we all were. He was looking at Remus now, pleading with him, “right after you’d had your son…Remus, I’m so sorry—”
“I’m sorry too.” Remus admitted, stopping Harry, not wanting him to go on, “Sorry that I will never know him…but he will know why I died and I hope he will understand. I was trying to make a world in which he would live a happier life.”
Well said buddy, I thought. At least Teddy would have someone to tell him about his parents. Harry had no one for his whole life.
A breeze seemed to come from deeper in the forest, and Harry turned towards it, then looked back at us. “You’ll stay with me?”
“Until the very end.” I promised. And I knew that he didn’t put as much weight on that sentence as I did.
“They won’t be able to see you?”
“We are part of you,” said Sirius, “Invisible to everyone else.” I don’t know how he knew that, but it seemed to be right.
Harry took a deep breath and walked deeper into the Forest. We passed through a group of Dementors, but we were unharmed, the four of us seemed to act like Patronuses to Harry. Not that he needed us. He could do a pretty good one, so I’d been told. Though we were not touched, the Dementors chill seemed to get to him and he shivered, wrapping the cloak he was wearing around him tighter. It was only then I realised that he was wearing the Invisibility Cloak that had been mine, and my father’s before me. I must not have noticed that he was invisible to everyone else because we could see him. But that would just be because we were a part of him. No one else could see us. Still, it was good to see the cloak serving its purpose well. It covered him entirely, but I knew that if he tried to fit more then just him under there, they would have to crouch. It was the same with me when I was at my last year at Hogwarts.
There was a soft thud and someone whispered something close by. Harry stopped and turned towards the sound. Lily, Remus, Sirius and I did the same.
“Someone there,” came a rough whisper, “He’s got an Invisibility Cloak. Could it be—?”
Then two cloaked figures stepped out from a nearby tree, holding their lit wands high, directly towards us, but they evidently couldn’t see anything. When the lights shone on their faces, I recognised Yaxley and Dolohov. Anger rose in me like lava. Yaxley had attacked Lily and me once in the Christmas Holidays in our seventh year. And Dolohov and I had had our duels in the past as well. I heard a soft grumble from Remus as he stared at Dolohov menacingly and it was suddenly clear to me that Dolohov had been the one to cast that final spell on Moony.
“Definitely heard something.” Yaxley muttered, “Animal, d’you reckon?”
“That headcase Hagrid kept a whole bunch of stuff in here,” said Dolohov.
“Time’s nearly up.” Yaxley said, glancing down at his watch, “Potter’s had his hour. He’s not coming.” That made me almost want to laugh, because Harry was standing right in front of him.
“And he was sure he’d come! He won’t be happy.”
“Better go back, find out what the plan is now.”
The Death Eaters turned and headed deeper into the Forest. Harry followed them, knowing they would lead him to Voldemort, and we trailed after him. He glanced at Lily and me uneasily. Lily smiled at him, and I nodded. We knew he could do this.
We walked a little further, following Yaxley and Dolohov, until they stepped in to a clearing, a fire burning bright in the middle. Harry stopped just outside of it, so that he could still see what was going on. I noticed with a start that a couple of giants were standing by the scene, on the outskirts of the group. There was an enormous web spread on the trees above, and I realised that some sort of spider would have lived here. Judging by its web it would have been huge. But I didn’t really want to think about that. I hated spiders.
Looking around the clearing, I saw Death Eaters huddled around the fire, some still wearing masks and hoods, others faces you could see. I noticed Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy, both looking stressed and scared, Lucius almost looking sick. I also recognised Crabbe and Goyle, Rowle and, with a feeling of disgust I noticed Fenrir Greyback was standing in the corner, licking his fingernails. I looked at Remus and saw his mouth strained, his eyes slightly narrowed, now glaring not at his killer at the werewolf that gave him the bite. Obviously, Remus had more enemies in death then he did when he was alive.
Voldemort was standing in the middle, his wand in his hands, all eyes on him. Bellatirx Lestrange was kneeling at his side, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw Sirius’s fists ball up tightly.
When Dolohov and Yaxley walked into the clearing, Voldemort looked up. “No sign of him, my Lord.” Dolohov said, seeming almost afraid to admit it.
Voldemort made no move to show that he had even heard. He just drew his wand between his long, white fingers.
“My Lord—” Bellatrix murmured, but Voldemort raised a hand to silence her. Then he looked up and spoke in his cold, high voice.
“I thought he would come. I expected him to come.”
It was silent in the circle. Standing on the outskirts, still hidden by the trees, Harry pulled off the Invisibility Cloak and stuffed into his robes with his wand. His hands were shaking slightly, but I knew he would go through with it. He took a deep, slightly shaky breath as Voldemort said,
“I was, it seems…mistaken.”
“You weren’t.” Harry said loudly and forcefully, stepping into the light, as the stone in his fingers fell to the ground. As soon as it had left his hand, there was a flash of white light, and Harry, Voldemort and the Forbidden Forest was gone.